The crew of a PLAY Airlines A320neo declared an emergency over the Atlantic at night, due to a suspected fuel leak. They landed safely.
Strictly speaking, this was a flight within Europe. But Iceland’s location means that its flights get to spend a lot of time over the open ocean. And in the case of a fuel leak on the way home, there is a chance that a diversion away from the island could become impossible. This incident happened on the 13th of June, involving flight OG-655.
PLAY used an Airbus A320neo for this flight, which it performs once a week. It is from Malaga Costa Del Sol Airport (LEMG) in Spain to Keflavik International (BIKF) in Iceland. On the day of the incident, there were 105 people on board. The pilots identified the problem as the flight was approaching waypoint ETP, between Shannon and Keflavik.
PLAY A320neo – Missing or Unavailable Fuel?
It was then that the crew of the PLAY A320neo noted that they would only have 300kg (661lbs) of fuel remaining when landing. They then saw that the outer fuel transfer valves were amber. The fuel quantities of the outboard tanks were not moving, suggesting that these tanks weren’t feeding. It was unclear if this was a problem with their indications, a leak or a fuel feeding issue.
The crew declared an emergency. But at this position, they didn’t have the option to divert, so continued to Keflavik. According to local media, the news of an emergency with this PLAY A320neo caused over 1,000 responders to deploy. As some keenly pointed out, the population of Keflavik is around 16,000!
Meanwhile, the flight crew on the emergency flight decided to climb, to fly more efficiently. After reaching FL380, their estimated fuel available on arrival increased to 400kg (882lbs). The crew of the PLAY A320neo landed successfully on runway 01 in Keflavik. An inspection then showed that there was “plenty of fuel” on the aircraft. However, it is not clear if the crew would have been able to use all of it.
The aircraft returned to service over three days after this incident. This is an Airbus A320-251N, with registration (TF-PPA). PLAY only picked it up last November. It is just over two years old and should have flown for SaudiGulf Airlines. But the airline didn’t take up this order.
The aircraft appears to be in regular service today. Authorities in Iceland classified this as a serious incident, and they are investigating it.